Plants with Intuition
Adaptogens are known for their unique ability to help the body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic function, and help restore homeostasis. Adaptogens increase the body's resistance to physical, biological, and environmental stressors by providing an arsenal that helps the body cope with symptoms of stress such as anxiety, mental fatigue and sleeplessness before they hit.
Adaptogens come in many forms including plants, roots, herbs, and mushrooms. They are called adaptogens because of their ability to “adapt” their function according to the body’s specific needs.
Adaptogens work by interacting with the brain and adrenal glands to help shift the physiological effects of stress, helping the body to positively adapt. They can have opposing effects - they can be relaxing or stimulating, they can help improve restfulness but also increase endurance. The correct response is triggered according to the body’s specific needs at that time - consider it an intuitive push in the right direction.
In order to be considered an adaptogen they must fulfill the following criteria:
1. They must be relatively non-toxic to the body's normal physiological functioning.
2. They must produce a non-specific defensive response to stress, building a reserve of “adaptive energy” to keep the body balanced when affected by multiple stressors or harmful influences.
3. With their unique bidirectional effect they have a normalizing influence on the body’s (hyper/hypo) metabolic function.
How do Adaptogens Work?
They work by re-regulating the master control systems in the body, the HPA (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal) axis and the SAS (Sympathoadrenal System).
The HPA axis is our central stress response system, which intertwines the central nervous system and endocrine system. It controls cortisol levels and other stress related hormones.
The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood among other things.
The SAS (Sympathoadrenal System) mediates our response to external stimuli and is responsible for our “fight or flight” response to stress.
Adaptogens work to strike a balance within the glands involved in the body’s stress response. These are the hypothalamic, adrenal and pituitary glands otherwise known as the stress system which also regulates internal processes like digestion and immunity.
Our bodies go through 3 phases of stress,
otherwise known as G.A.S.
(General Adaptation Syndrome):
As we encounter stressors in the alarm phase our body responds by producing hormones like adrenaline that improve endurance, performance and increase our ability to concentrate and think clearly as it enters the resistance phase.
Adaptogens help to prolong the resistance phase, encouraging the body to reap the “feel good” benefits produced in the alarm phase for longer. The main role of an adaptogen is to keep the body from experiencing the last burnout stage and complete exhaustion by balancing the HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal) axis and restoring homeostasis in the body.
What do Adaptogens help with?
• Balance stress hormones
• Enhance overall immunity
• Boost energy (without the jitters)
• Provide mental focus and clarity
• Sharpen concentration and memory
• Increase stamina
• Optimize cognitive function
• Reduce brain fog
• Calm anxiety and elevate mood
• Improve sleep quality
• Fight fatigue and sluggishness
• Promote overall gut health
• Reduce bloating, cramping and gas
• Fight infection and illness
• Boost endurance and stamina
• Shorten recovery time
Adaptogens are most effective when taken consistently over time. Studies show that the consistent use of adaptogens can help the body to be more resilient in times of stress, resulting in less illness, better digestion, improved quality of sleep, lower anxiety, higher productivity and faster exercise recovery.
*Any effective adaptogen regimen should be paired with exercise and a healthy diet. Consult a healthcare provider prior to use if you are currently pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or if you have a medical condition.